By Technology Times Staff Reporter
Lagos. November 26, 2012:MTN Nigeria, the country’s number one mobile phone company by subscriber numbers says its success has largely hinged on a strong focus on customer experience in the continent’s vibrant telecoms market where it has over 43 million active subscribers.
It comes just as South Africa’s MTN Group and owners of MTN Nigeria has said it will accord priority to mobile money services across the continent to deepen penetration and continue to foster its future growth.
Omatsola Barrow, Executive for Sales and Distribution, MTN Nigeria told delegates at the AfricaCom 2012 conference in Cape Town recently that the mobile phone company’s key to succeeding in Nigeria’s competitive ICT sector is a strong focus on customer experience.
“It has given us a huge competitive advantage by raising the barrier to entry by the competition,” says Barrow of MTN Nigeria’s innovative distribution model that the phone company says has been integral to its success in the country.
According to him, MTN Nigeria’s distribution channels offer a comprehensive experience to the customer. The channels provide availability and visibility of the MTN brand, products and services. They also communicate MTN’s value propositions in the market.
“Our channels offer personalised customer service and end-to-end support for our subscribers to enjoy the pleasure of telecom services,” Barrow says.
MTN Nigeria’s distribution model is built around partnerships. It is made up of a three-tier model, consisting of Trade Partners, Sub-Trade Partners, and BizLift members (retailers). Each tier is responsible for providing some level of infrastructure to support the distribution of MTN product and services, he adds.
A unique feature of the distribution model is the use of sub-trade partner, referred to as the Yello Trader and “they provide us with the latest information on products and services to retailers, thereby helping them to manage their businesses better.”
MTN Nigeria says it is using distribution channels to provide a distinct customer experience and constantly provide consumers with updated information on product and services.
Barrow adds that the retail channel will play a key role going forward in exposing brand propositions, which is key as buying decisions take place at the point of sale.
“Our Direct Sales Agents are spread across the entire market space, engaging over 160 000 retailers daily, and communicating and selling the MTN brand. They support visibility drives and also promote MTN’s look and feel in the market.”
To protect and grow its market share, Barrow adds that MTN Nigeria constantly refines its distribution model noting that, “we are always on the lookout for new distribution channel opportunities.”
Another area of innovation within radar within the MTN Group is the emerging mobile money ecosystem that is fast taking root across the continent.
Also speaking at the event, Khaled Mikkawi, CEO of MTN Rwanda says that the future of mobile money in Africa lies in its ability to innovate and transcend beyond its current offerings.
He says the relationships with third party developers were important to enable and increase access to innovative financial services such as merchandise payments, online payments and insurance solutions.
A GSMA report on mobile money adoption shows that mobile money is Rwanda’s fastest growing telecommunication service. MTN Rwanda introduced the service in February 2010. To date, the service has more than 600 000 active users – the equivalent of 20% of MTN Rwanda’s mobile subscriber base.
Mikkawi says MTN Rwanda’s focus now is to grow the penetration of the service, particularly in geographically isolated areas. MTN Rwanda’s target is to have more than 50% of its subscriber base using the mobile money platform.
“Mobile money is a strategic service for MTN,” says Mikkawi. To improve its market penetration, in addition to fostering relationships with third party developers, MTN Rwanda would soon migrate mobile money to a new platform, he adds.
“Among other benefits, this will enable us to integrate the MTN Mobile Money service with a charging system.”
Already, an increasing number of mobile money subscribers are using the service for non-airtime transactions. These include electricity purchases and bill payments.
Mikkawi said the increase in mobile money usage in Rwanda indicates growing confidence in the service.
“This is also illustrated by the increase in the value of transactions conducted via the platform. MTN Mobile Money transactions exceeded the US$400m mark at the end of the second quarter this year, of which $160m were cash-ins,” he adds.
Driving the uptake is MTN Rwanda’s extensive network of more than 1 000 active agents – a figure that has grown steadily over the years.
Commenting on the growth potential of the mobile money market in Rwanda, Mikkawi says that, “there are 14 000 villages in Rwanda and each one needs to be covered. Rwanda also has several medium-sized cities, which still lag behind. This makes them good ‘candidates’ for MTN Mobile Money campaigns.”